Editor & Founder
(Barstow)–A well attended Federal Railroad Administration public meeting to discuss the upcoming contruction of the DesertXpress high speed train took place in Barstow Thursday night.
The meeting, which lasted about two hours and had about 17 speakers, analyzed the economic impact of the proposed $6 billion project slated to begin construction in 2011.
DesertXpress is a 200-mile high-speed rail project that would link Las Vegas with Victorville. Organizers explained they would also build a 50-mile line between Victorville and Palmdale to tie into California’s planned high-speed rail network.
While there was a division of opinions on whether the train could have a positive impact on the City of Barstow, the consensus at the end of the meeting was aligned around the notion that a project of this magnitude is needed to improve the economic situation of the High Desert. “What better solution to our High Desert than to allow for the construction of the nation’s first high speed train project?,” Victorville Mayor Pro Tem Mike Rothschild asked.
Former Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale was very clear in voicing his opinion against DesertXpres, a project he called “old fashioned.”
Current Barstow Councilman Timothy Silva cited certain losses of income if DesertXpress is built, as the current route does not plan a stop in his city.
Businessman Greg Seitz considered the construction of the high speed train positive for the entire High Desert and asked all cities involved to work together. “This project brings benefits for everyone and it will stimulate the local economy,” Seitz said.
According to a recent study on DesertXpress, authored by University of Nevada, Las Vegas Economics Professor Thomas Carroll, the construction of the high speed train would create an estimated 28,384 primary jobs and 26,699 secondary jobs in San Bernardino County, most of them in the High Desert over three years. The study also said the rail line would produce 17,469 primary jobs and 16,432 secondary jobs in Nevada.
Victorville Councilman Terry Caldwell explained that the project is key to bring good-paying jobs to the area. “The Victorville Council has unanimously backed this project because it stands to create a positive job environment to our area, this is a huge project we cannot ignore,” Caldwell explained.